MT. DIABLO STATE PARK--EAGLE PEAK (2,369'), NORTH PEAK (3,557'), AND MT. DIABLO (3,849') April 19, 2003
Tired of being pent-up after so many days of April rain, I determined that the weekend would be nice for hiking. As my alarm went off at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, I actually turned it off and went back to bed! I lay there, thinking. Am I such a slouch that I would spend the day at home?
I had done my four peak Diablo Grand Slam twice before, but not recently. We climb all of the major peaks, getting four in a day. My partner for these had become somewhat frail, and due perhaps to a medical condition, declines to attend any more of my hikes/climbs.
I picked a weekend because I knew hikers would be out in force. I look for partners, and some are saavy to my website urgings.
Arriving at the Mitchell Canyon trailhead parking (elevation 586') at 8:20 a.m. I started up the dirt road at 8:32 a.m. The first parts were trod by many a horseshoe in damp mud. The trails and roads were all nice and dry now, and the lush green canopy reminds me of a rain forest. Plenty of flowers began to show themselves. I began snapping the first of many photos, and after 40 minutes of mostly level walking, started up the big hill. A mountain biker was already screaming down, here. I kept track of my times, and came to the other main dirt road, past Deer Flat, in good time.
Getting to the junction at Murchio Gap, for the Eagle Peak Trail, I anticipated a good time. I topped the Eagle Peak summit at 10:34 a.m., hardly two hours from my start. I had avoided taking the Eagle Peak Trail at its northern start near the bottom, because once I had a bad experience with ticks falling into my hair, from above, even.
I had seen nicer displays of poppies at the top, but I think I am a little late for the peak bloom. I was to run into other hikers that I saw later. Circling the main peak is a popular hike.
Not dilly-dallying, I headed back to the main dirt road, and then began a substantial drop, taken deliberately by me, in refusal of a traversing trail, to get more gain. I hoped to get some 5,000 feet of gain for this day. The road gets steep at points, as it climbs back up, and I knew this was the worse. I then came to Prospectors Gap (2,960+') and continued past a lunching group to the top of North Peak. One section to here is ball-bearing rocks over steep hardpan. That took so much out of me! I scrambled down to a small hill on the north ridge, then surmised I was on Mt. Olympia (2,946'). My memory has faded! Looking at the map, I saw it was much further down. I made a weak attempt to follow faint trails down, then came to a cliff. People on Mt. Olympia were so small, far below. It was some 12:48 p.m. Forget it!
A trail to Olympia starts from lower down on the North Peak Trail, but I was too tired. I worry about making it back to the parking and out of there, since the park closes at "dusk." There is a gate which they can lock. I gave myself till 7 p.m., even though the sun sets at about 7:45 p.m. I like to have a margin of error.
Coming back to Prospectors Gap at 1:31 p.m., I knew now I could relax. I had lots of time, and had nearly completed all of the day's gain. I picked up conversing with other hikers, taking the North Peak Trail to the Devils Elbow. I had it made!
Hiking up to the sizable parking lots on the summit, I topped out at 2:48 p.m. My notes and figuring left me some three hours to get back to the Mitchell Canyon parking. I sure enjoyed this!
So many hikers were out today! I fell into a conversation with another hiker on the top deck, and rested as I chatted. Finally, I needed to start down. Leaving the area at 3:25 p.m., I found my way down to Juniper Camp, with some of the purest spring water tapped there.
Only miles to go, all headed down, I snapped more photos, and tried to enjoy this more. Many of my hikes are rushed due to a deadline. I either have to get back by dark, to catch transportation, before any gates shut, or when distant favorite restaurants close.
The view of Eagle Peak, again, was nice with the sun to the west. This somewhat being maybe 20 times I have done this part, I counted the time and miles. I was back to the flat canyon bottom, so clock-watched to determine my arrival time back at the parking. I got there at 6:12 p.m., to use the restroom. I hadn't needed to use a shrub at all this day.
Some other hikers whom I had seen in the morning arrived back as well. I spoke with one, who was prepping for Half Dome.
Motoring off with still plenty of daylight, I wondered if I would try this again. With a partner, even, I can wait till next winter.
My total stats were about eighteen miles with over 5,000' gain. I shot some 100 digital photos. You must pay $2 for the self-serve parking, and the Antioch Bridge cost me $2 toll northbound. I had enjoyed a burger and drink at a new fast-food chain restaurant in Pittsburg, CA.
I once had been appalled at the growth of sprawl, well seen below in the region. Subdivisions sprouted up like mushrooms. With some new park acquisitions, the area is becoming more balanced with set open space. But, I doubt if any mountain lions, or any big mammals, could ever exist or survive again, in these shrinking wild lands.
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